News : Hindustan Ambassador production put on ice

Hindustan Ambassador

Production of the the Hindustan Ambassador, one of the very last classic cars you can buy new, has been halted due to financial issues caused by poor demand in a ‘stuttering’ car market. The car, which is known as the ‘Amby’ in its home land of India, is still in daily use and continues to prove popular as a taxi, especially in Southern cities.

The Ambassador has been in production in varying forms since 1957 and is originally based upon the Morris Oxford Series III. You can read the full account of its introduction and production here on AROnline. Suspension of production at its factory located close to the city of Kolkata, is a reflection of collapsing sales – in 2013-’14 a mere 2200 examples rolled off the line.

A lack of investment into Hindustan’s factory and in the car itself is also thought to have dealt a serious blow. Although the car has been revised many times, most notably in 2004 with the Avigo model (above), the car that was once the mainstay of Government officials has been overtaken by more modern cars, as India’s market has gradually opened up during the past two decades.

The Amby is also still warmly regarded by many Indians, who see it as their first national car – and one that many families owned during in the past – but nostalgia alone can’t maintain sales. Hindustan Motors said in a statement: ‘The suspension of work will enable the company in restricting mounting liabilities and restructure its organisation and finances and bring in a situation conducive to reopening of the plant.’

The chances of Hindustan restarting Ambassador production are said to be very slim indeed.

Hindustan Ambassador Fullbore

Keith Adams


  1. End of an era.

    The car is very reminiscent of what perhaps an FX4 saloon might be, perhaps if a TX4-style reimagining is put forward by Tata it could take the market?

  2. This isn’t surprising news given the pace of change in the Indian car market. What’s remarkable is that Hindustan has managed to hold on for so long.

  3. It feels like we’re in the middle of the end of many eras.

    We’ve lost many oldtimers:
    – The original Mini
    – The Beetle and type 2 van
    – Citroen 2CV
    – Hindustan Ambassador
    – mk1 Golf (citiGolf)
    – Lada Riva
    – Fiat Uno (Mille)
    – 2015 – Land Rover Defender

  4. If it had not been for the Indian state buying this museum piece it for its ministries would have died in the 80’s.

  5. There’s nothing worse than facelifting an ancient design to make it look modern. That Avigo front end looks terrible!

  6. The Dacia Denims had a few odd facelifts to make the original Renault 12 style look more up to date, but just seemed to mess things up.

  7. @4 don’t be suprized if the Uno makes another come back!
    You can still by Shells off the shelf as for some random reason as CKD are still being assembled and sold ;-/

  8. The Avigo bonnet is almost the same shape as the original Morris one before they put the scallops in!

  9. Fiat’s latin American operations seem to like creating “parts bin specials”, so I wouldn’t put it past them!

  10. I actually quite like the red cars front clip, although I think I prefer the original on balance. You can see what they are trying to do with it, which is give it a MINI family look – which given the pedigree is apt if a little ironic. It would probably work better in black as well, I dont think it would be at its best in white.
    I’ve often considered, had I the money, pulling the 1300 engine from my current car, a 1350cc 12v unit and putting that into a sceptre – same power, OBDII, and the lovely 6 speed manual OD (not the godawful crunch/crunch/3 ‘5-speed’ manual that its currently bolted to).
    Why on earth dont manufacturers in the UK provide ‘crate’ engines? BMW with the 801 engine produced something called a ‘kraftei’ which was an entire engine-with-everything kit you just bolted on and connected up. It wouldnt be difficult to make an upgrade engine or engine/transmission kit for cars so you could get the new tech in your well looked after older car (after all this is what has been done with the Amby in reality).
    It would be good all round – more economical for the customer, less energy wastage, less per unit pollution for older cars. Just imagine what could be done in China for example – instead of doing their projected “not-getting-executed-for-clunkers” program why not just re-engine as many of the older cars with modern motors/transmissions as you can lay your hands on (provided they’re safe and roadworthy). The pollution from making all the new cars will probably be as bad as the smog the old ones were making.

  11. Long life to the icons, unfortuantely the globalization of all carbrands are putting in retirement the production of those models that are so particular to every determined culture e.g. this Hindustan Amby … not to mention wonderful shapes that could survive for their timeless design e.g. Zaz 968 , Renault 4 , Austin Allegro, Citroën Dyane. Once upon a time Brasil and Argentina had their own models under Ford , VW or Fiat assembly plants, models that were unique to their markets which production is ceased but people still miss `em . Today the trend is e.g. Renault putting their emblem and distributorship to barely different automóviles made in Romenia, South Korea and so on, apart from the authentic French-made, but this tough changing generation is going to get lack of identity for their designs. By the way, apart from giving to AROnline our hottest compliments for doing such an awesome firstclass automotive fanpage, I gotta tell you how deeply we Argentinians do love the British cars of all times, not to mention the British pop stars. I hope someday this great initiative of AROnline be the pattern for future peaceful friendly association between the respectful British people and the SouthAmerican Argentinean inhabitants who incredibly have a lot of admiration toward every U.K.`s featurings related to every subject. I found via this AROnline pages a subtle entrance door to connect with the fascinating British vehicle`s story and getting some comfortable virtual socialization with You, thanks !!!

  12. to day if you see some one doing bad then driving off in a car you could say it was a viva ,mini ,imp .Cambridge ,all cars but all looked different ,to day at a distance they look the same .I wish the government would allow small car makers to be revived like reliant .

    • As much as people would like to see Reliant, Bond and others small-fry car-makers revived (albeit as 4-wheelers), would assume that it would be pretty much impossible for such small car-makers to be profitable nowadays.

      Short of the government creating a new vehicle category sitting above the Microcar class (16 year old +) and somewhat overlapping with Japan’s Kei Car class (while restricted to say 1-3 seats and under 1000cc engines), which specifically target younger drivers (until say 23 or 25) as well as regular commuters (along with invalids and others) for the purpose getting people to downsize, such a scenario is unlikely.

      Another thing that is bothersome is that even if larger car-makers decided to get in on the act by building such vehicles, it would typically be compromised by very short-range electric motors, slow-witted semi-automatic / automatic gearboxes (if using combustion engines) and featuring styling that alienates over half to 3 quarters + of the population as well as completely putting normal people off the idea of downsizing altogether.

      Regarding 3-wheelers, it might still be doable if in a similar mold to the prototype from Elio Motors with 2-wheels at the front though whether small-fry car-makers can compete is another matter.

  13. @17, g scothern,

    I don’t think the Govt is standing in the way of small car makers like Reliant.

    Problem is that it costs so much to bring a car to market, given the need to pass environmental standards and crash worthiness (dictated by the EU and also by customers themselves) that small makers like Reliant are not viable anymore. The last Robin was so expensive that you could have bought a much more modern (and vastly safer) car for a fraction of the price. And that is what all but a handful of customers did.

    As others have said elswhere, the trouble is nowadays is that if you want a car to stand out you have to make it uglier (as BMW do with their Mini range, and that still-shocking X6). I work in vehicle logistics- try locating an individual car in a compound full of hundreds of similarly shaped cars from several other manufacturers.

  14. Personally, I wouldn’t say all modern cars look similar to each other. And no more similar than in past decades.

    What about the Cortina Mk2 and Hillman Hunter; Renault, Rover, Ford and just about everyone else in the late 80s early 90s with their straight lines, grill-less front ends and rectangular light clusters. Even the original Mini shared its front grill with the Ford Consul of the day !

  15. The Ambassador had been overtaken by more modern and acceptable cars from Hyundai, Nissan and Suzuki. Selling 2000 cars a year in a country of 800 million people isn’t enough and the Ambassador, with its ancient design, terrible drive and poor quality, just couldn’t cut it and there was no potential for export sales. I drive a Nissan Micra, which is made in India and for all the finish is a bit cheap, it drives just as well as a Western car and this is what India wants.

  16. In 1969 I bought a 1954 Morris Oxford to keep me mobile whilst I rebuilt a Mini. The Oxford was as solid as a tank (witness the dent in a Beetle’s front after it ran into one of my unscratched rear over-riders). With the red leather bench seat in the front lateral support didn’t come into it and it heeled like a ship in a storm. 35 years later it was a real pleasure to ride in a brand new Ambassador in Delhi, seats covered in white cotton rather than leather, and a modern diesel engine under the bonnet. I wasn’t sure about the fairy lights the owner had carefully draped around the interior, though. The familiar shape of the shell and the basic character of the car did evoke memories, although in reality it was a relic of the automotive middle-ages.

  17. I did look into buying one when they were briefly imported to the UK. Sadly they were just too expensive for what they were by the time they’d been made compliant.

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